1. TheDarkWriter

    TheDarkWriter Active Member

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    Is she too offensive?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TheDarkWriter, Dec 4, 2016.

    So my MC she's Asian and a serious issue she has is with other minorities she is the type to say "You know I keep hearing about how black lives matter but no one really seems to think Asian lives matter." She is very out spoken to the point that she is borderline racist but only gets like this when people fail to discuss or mention the way Asians have been treated.

    She gets pissed when people try to treat her struggles the same as the struggle of others
     
  2. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    As long as it's not too "in your face" or repeated over and over, it shouldn't be annoying. A little spice is fine - too much ruins the dish.
     
  3. Mikmaxs

    Mikmaxs Senior Member

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    Depends on context and presentation. How much 'screentime' does she get? Is she like this all the time? If so, what is the story about?
    If it's a story about drama and social justice and fighting repression, then it could work to have her around pretty regularly, spouting her opinions as a contrast to others. Where does she agree? Where does she disagree? Is she being racist, or just short sighted and selfish, or none of the above?
    If it's an action comedy about intergalactic justice and fighting aliens, though, then she should probably not get the spotlight all too often.
     
  4. Denegroth

    Denegroth Banned

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    A major civil rights activist once said all races were naturally prejudiced against other races. Racism, however, is having social dominance and using social institutions to enforce racial prejudice. People today throw around the word racism like it was popcorn at a cowboy movie. People using their social prejudices to alter the language, to set themselves up as authorities on what is racist, and what is not is another form of social injustice.

    Someone might be acerbic, and subject to their unenlightened tendency to be prejudiced against those that differ, and still not be racist. For a main character, readers don't have to like the lady in question. Ultimately, they just have to be interested in the outcome. I think as long as she isn't what we call in the south "hateful", it would be an interesting personality trait to give a character. It could also work against her at times, making her the source of humor at her own expense.

    Just be honest with how you depict her. Some people always complain. And, like I said, it's popular now to think we can label people as racist, when in fact the society doesn't really understand the concept well enough to be so vocal about it. You can't let current social fads dictate your artistic judgement. Then society will be writing your book, not you.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016
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  5. Dominique Parker

    Dominique Parker Member

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    I don't think this would really be offensive, I think it would get extremely irritating if she does this too often though. I think this is really dependent on when and where this story takes place, the subject of your story and how you handle the character overall. If your story takes place in a Japanese Internment camp around 1943 well, then I can understand why she would have a bit of a chip on her shoulder about the rights of Asian people in her society. If the story takes place in a true to life, contemporary United States then I think it would get a little annoying constantly hearing her talk about her rights in comparison to another groups rights. Even if she is "borderline racist" she can still be a great character. Tony Soprano is a racist, murderous, mobster sociopath and people still love the man. I'm pretty fond of Mr. Soprano myself. I think with a character like that its all about moderation. If a character is racist that's fine but, if that's all they do then we've got a problem. It probably also helps a little if this behavior is in some way condemned. For example Tony is chastised for almost an entire season by his daughter solely because of his racist beliefs. Which makes a lot of sense since realistically its tough to be racist these days without someone having a problem with it. Which is fine with me.

    Also if she brings up real life movements, historical events, etc. to back up her beliefs make sure you research them. If she says for example "I keep hearing "Black Lives Matter" but no one really seems to think asian lives matter" that doesn't really reinforce her argument since the whole BLM thing doesn't even mean only black peoples lives matter that's not really the idea. A statement like that could make her come off as a bit of an idiot. If this is what you want that's fine. For example, Mr. Soprano (I'm really stuck on this Tony Soprano comparison here) does this all the time but it is clearly deliberate. The man doesn't know much about other people because he's been encased in an Italian mobster bubble for his whole life so, he hears stereotypes about other groups, maybe has one or two bad encounters with other groups and that frames his view of everyone from those other groups. He then expresses that view by stating "facts" about other groups that are clearly either false are largely hyperbole but sincerely believes these statements are true. That's sort of how racism works in general really.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016
  6. G. Anderson

    G. Anderson Active Member

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    It is offensive, I think. But loads of people do believe, thin, and/or say things like that in real life, so I don't see a problem with writing a character like that - as long as it's coming from the character and not the author.
     
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  7. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    From what I hear many of the privileges white people have are actually even greater with Asians. For example the wage gap from the aggregate salaries of every job, Asians earn more than whites on average. But unless you're Asian yourself in this era of identity politics people are going to have huge problem with a non Asian speaking for Asian rights activists like that.
     
  8. TheDarkWriter

    TheDarkWriter Active Member

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    Well it's not that she's an idiot she just encounters a lot of people who only talk about the struggles of affrican Americans and that ignore the struggles that Asians/Orientals have faced in America. Her logic is summed up in a Joker style quote "An Asian American gets gun downed nobody panics an African American gets shot people lose their minds." Mind you she isn't always like this(the story pokes fun of PC culture but doesn't demonize or it anything) but will flip out when someone acts like she doesn't know what it's like to be discriminated against.

    Like I said though its not a central part of her character and it's only shown a few times. She's pretty much a smart ass.
     
  9. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I don't think shes too offensive so long as its not written as though that sort of thing is your opinion too .

    However i do think you've got an issue with generalising about asians - there isn't one group of asians with one culture, you've got a massive variety with three or four different main religions and a bunch of minor ones -e.g someone from pakistan has a very different culture to someone from vietnam.
     
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  10. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    No matter how offensive somebody in the story is as a person, that somebody won't be offensive as a character unless the narrative takes her side.

    For example: Alec Shorman, the first-person narrator of my Urban Fantasy WIP walks into a bank in the first chapter with a note detailing his crew's robbery demands. He finds the teller extremely attractive, makes a big deal in his internal monologue about how hard he's trying not to oogle her, and ponders whether to take the chance that she would take anything based on "chocolatey" as a compliment. Alec's boss, Charlie Petersen, doesn't mind being referred to as "chocolatey" by the guys she meets, and Alec wonders if the teller might be like that too, but then reminds himself that most black people don't like hearing that as much as Charlie does, so Alec decides not to bring that up while he's threatening a deadly shoot-out if the bank doesn't give him a bag of money.

    Does he sound like a guy that any reader in their right mind could possibly mistake for being a role model?
     
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  11. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    This is a good point. I've read oodles of romances that drove me nuts trying to drive home the authors opinion. They made it crystal clear by setting up as a lesson the behavior and dialogue of the villains versus the so-called heros & heroines. If people were that cut and dried there would be less divorces, less scams etc. So I'd avoid setting up scenes in which the character can show off how right she is.
    But my biggest issue as a reader would be - does the character come across clever and passionate or just whiny?
     
  12. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The above. If that's how she is, that's how she is. Have we never met someone like this? Are we to edit out all the people we personally find objectionable (assuming we do) from our stories and populate the pages of books only with people that fit the rules we've decided are "the people we will engage and those we won't"?

    The concern the two above members mention is narrative intrusion* of a kind that makes use of a character in a book as a mouthpiece for an opinion or idea we - the writer - may have. Where is the line between your character being this way and you being this way through the character? That's not a line that can be pinpointed because it's going to depend on so many other factors in her engagement of other characters, and how other characters engage her in the story. Does she spout this at random moments for no good reason? Do the other characters never challenge her opinion? Does she serve as a Pied Piper of sorts, getting everyone to follow along, even against the traits you have assigned to the other characters. All those things come into play. And it may not even be an opinion you yourself hold, but if the above things happen, it can look as though it's your opinion, and now the reader is getting a polemic from you, inadvertently, and this starts to become off-putting, and yes, perhaps offensive.

    *Narrative intrusion comes in many colors and flavors, some of which are inadvertent, some of which are purposeful, some of which annoy, some of which can be used to great effect on the part of the writer. Something worth studying up on. ;)
     
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  13. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    I'l answer the same way I am in real life.
    If she can answer what happened, in reality, she can spout all she wants.
    Realize 'Asia' is huge, with all it's own wars and hierarchies. Asians that come to the US face their own problems that come to their community.
    So for instance, Chinese were used as labor, and treated horribly in a lot of places.
    Then Japanese came, and we put them in internment camps.
    Then ____ came and we ____.
    Vietnamese came and faced communism fears.

    Each group that arrives has it a little better than the one before.
     
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  14. mikasa

    mikasa Member

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    I think it is fine to be strongly opinionated about something, might call it passionate, or very driven, but if she is really racist "borderline racist" I think it will be hard to get behind her. Anytime someone toes the line of "x race is better than yours," it leaves a bad taste of sorts, in my opinion. Maybe I just read too much into the borderline part.
     
  15. R. L. Larson

    R. L. Larson New Member

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    For a MC you have to walk a thin line. You want your reader to like them, or at least identify with them because they will be going with them through the story. If you make the MC too much of an asshole, your reader won't care when they get into trouble and ultimately won't like your work.

    I do however think it's important to make your character relate-able by making them real. They must have faults, fears, insecurities, this is what makes us human. Take Han Solo, he is kind of an asshole, but everyone loves him, why? Because he is a likable asshole. (Rhett Butler is another that comes to mind.)

    Make her real, make her saucy, but don't make us hate her. If she says something truly offensive, then maybe have her regret it immediately in her head, and feel like a jerk, but be too proud to take it back. She must have redeeming qualities that make the reader want to be on her side.
     
  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I disagree that the main character has to be likeable or the reader won't like the work. There are plenty of examples to the contrary, including some where the MC has no real redeeming characteristics. I agree with those, above, who have said it is important to separate the character from the author in such instances.
     
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  17. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I'd be careful to keep it at bay just to keep it from being annoying. I've seen plenty of people like that, they just like to complain. Everything is always a contest on who's been oppressed the most, but they do nothing to help the situation. She sounds like the type who will yell and scream that there aren't enough women in science, then go and get a liberal arts degree. Complaining about a problem without being part of the solution is called whining and it can very quickly get annoying.
     
  18. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Comparativist Contributor

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    A fictional character isn't (or really, shouldn't be) "offensive" or "not offensive", a fictional character is either "well-written" or "not well-written". If you do it well you can have your character do and/or say whatever you like, and the audience will invest some sort of emotion (even a negative emotion is fine, if that's what you're going for and it works with the rest of the story) in it while still realizing the fictional aspect of it.

    I'm assuming an audience with at least a modicum of sophistication, of course. If you're writing for the sort of people who can't handle any kind of political disagreement, even in their fiction, you may want to adjust accordingly.
     
  19. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    At best it falls into being slightly offensive, and a little stereotypical (at least with the speech of the character).
    Granted I am not on the same page with most on the whole 'race' debate. Considering we can all mate and
    share organs and such. When those things are not possible then there is a clear distinction of race.

    Though on a personal level it would get kinda annoying to have a character playing the 'victim card'. So I say
    keep it to a minimum, otherwise it could get offputting to your reader base.
     

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